The bone building power of prunes

25 Sep 2018

Vegan Australia loves all things plant, including prunes! And we are not the only ones, with Australians eating their way through over 6,000 tonnes of prunes a year.

Did you know there is an association just for prune growers, called Aus Prunes? They have just let us know about a study showing that prunes are good for the bones. Check out their article below.

Prunes are a nutrient rich, natural dried fruit now backed by research showing they can aide in reducing bone loss and in fact preserve bone density in post-menopausal women.

We all know delicious prunes can assist in keeping you and your family regular with their natural fibre content which is also great for generating healthy gut bacteria. Did you know however that they can help maintain bone health? Yep, you read that correctly. Prunes have been found to reverse the effects of bone loss and promote bone formation in post-menopausal women.

Lisa Yates Advanced Practising Dietitian & Consultant Dietitian for the Australian Prune Industry Association (APIA) who reviewed the research said "Prunes contain bone-building nutrients: vitamin K, potassium, boron, sorbitol and polyphenol antioxidants, and these nutrients are different to those found in dairy. The combination shows some unexpected yet positive effects on bones."

Clinical trials have studied the impact of post-menopausal women eating 50-100g of prunes a day for 6-12 months. Post-menopause is a time when women are prone to accelerated bone loss and osteoporosis.

One particular study from 2016 found when 48 osteopenic women aged 65-79 years ate either 50g or 100g (6-12) prunes a day for 6 months - interesting changes to their bones occurred. Researchers found:

  • 50g or 100g of prunes a day prevented the loss of total body bone mineral density compared to those that didn't eat prunes at all
  • biomarkers of bone resorption were decreased indicating prunes can inhibit bone breakdown.

Other studies found biomarkers of bone formation increased from regularly eating prunes.

APIA Chairperson Grant Delves stated "This new bone health story is fantastic news for the Australian Prune Industry. We have always known prunes are a healthy snack for young and old alike but now they benefit both bone and digestive health."

"Just 6 prunes (less than 100 calories) a day as a snack or a versatile ingredient in meals is enough to boost bone building nutrients and positively impact bone health, and most people found there's no abnormal effects on bowels from eating prunes every day either," Mr Delves said.

Prune research has expanded into other health areas too. Research has also shown that prunes contain nutrients that have a positive impact on satiety, where if you eat prunes prior to lunch you feel fuller for longer and eat less later on. Effects on appetite may help with weight management. Regular prune consumption is also good for heart health with 6-12 prunes a day reducing total and LDL cholesterol.

"Prunes are a delicious, natural, plant food that are not only good for those who are looking to increase bone density but are a great addition to anyone's diet including pregnant mums and babies commencing solids, toddlers, school children and vegetarians and vegans." Ms Yates said.

There is a wide selection of tasty, modern recipes on APIA's website [only some are vegan!] as well as more information on research into prunes and benefits of adding them to your diet.

APIA is the peak industry body for Australian prune growers and prune processors. Most prune growers are located in the Griffith and Young regions of NSW.

Vegan Australia is an animal rights organisation that campaigns nationally for veganism. 
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